Friday, May 29, 2009
I am in awe of Irene Gut, the author of this book. She lived in Poland during World War II and rather than giving in to Hitler and the German army she fought to save the lives of the Jews around her. She was only 17 when war broke out and she was separated from her family and traveling with the Polish army as a nurse. Russian soldiers attacked and raped her and she later was forced to work for the German army as a cook and a housekeeper. Her first act of resistance was to pass food into a ghetto. From there she slowly took more and more risks to save Jewish lives until finally she was transporting Jews to a hideout in the forest, hiding them in her workplace, and harboring them in the basement of the home where she was living and working as a housekeeper for a Nazi commander. She was always fearful for her life but never stopped doing what she thought was right. It was heartening to read about numerous others who also were helping in a time of unbelievable horrors. I would recommend this to 8th graders on up through adults.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Troy White is a football genius. He can watch a football game and predict what the next offensive move will be. It's not ESP or cheating of some kind, his mind just analyzes things and figures out what the opposing team is going to do next. When his mom gets a job with the Atlanta Falcons and Troy gets down on the sidelines he can't resist trying to tell the players and coaches his predictions. Of course, no one believes a kid so he is hauled off the field and banned from football games. This is the story of how he manages to connect with Seth Holloway, a Falcons player, and convince him of his talent. At first I was not a big fan of Troy—he steals a football, sneaks into games, and doesn't go about things in the right way. But somewhere along the way I got into this story and enjoyed rooting for Troy to come out on top (and for Seth and Troy's mom to get together). It was a fun read that I would recommend to 6th or 7th grade football fans.
Matt Pin was airlifted out of Vietnam, never to see his biological mother and brother again. Two years later he has been adopted by an American family and is struggling with the memories of all that he left behind. He's a good baseball player and has a wonderful coach but he faces racism from some of his teammates. This is the moving story of how he comes to terms with his past and a secret that is too painful to share. It's written in free verse and is easy to read quickly, but it's so well written you may want to slow down and savor every word. Although it's historical fiction, it will also appeal to sports fans due to the baseball theme running throughout the book. A couple of 8th grade boys read and loved this one already so it comes highly recommended.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Art Spiegelman's father, Vladek, survived many horrors during the Holocaust, including being imprisoned at Auschwitz. Years later he was a crotchety older man living in New York when his son interviewed him about his life experiences. This graphic novel tells his story alternating between the sometimes difficult father-son relationship of the present and the gripping survival stories from the past. It starts out before the war when Vladek was a prosperous young man and the reader gets a sense of how gradually the repressive Nazi measures took effect. It's an amazing story for all ages and one that could really bring the Holocaust to life for mature teen readers. This book is only part one—to find out what happened in Auschwitz you must read Maus II.